GTJ is excited to announce its newest member and Director of Operations
Rachel starts work with GTJ on September 4.
Aaron+Stephen: What three things are you most excited about with GTJ:
1. Meeting everyone in the DC Jewish community/making new friends.
2. Attending zillions of awesome Jewish events.
3. Being in a position to have a positive impact on the Jewish community.
Aaron+Stephen: How did you first hear about GTJ?
Rachel: On a Friday evening last November, I was at the University of Delaware’s Chabad for Shabbat dinner. As a Chabad regular, I recognized pretty much everyone who came except one guy wearing an interesting hat. As fate would have it, I ended up sitting across from Aaron Wolff, the guy with the interesting hat, during dinner and he told me about Gather the Jews.
Aaron+Stephen: So you’re from Delaware?
Rachel: Yup, I lived in Delaware for most of my life. Being from a small state, though, is like being from a small town, everyone knows everyone else. I think there are only two degrees of separation in Delaware. That’s why I love to travel. I love seeing new places, meeting new people, and getting new perspectives on life. So far I’ve been to Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. One of my life goals is to visit all seven continents.
Aaron+Stephen: How did you first get involved in the Jewish community?
Rachel: When I was in high school, my mom decided I needed Jewish friends and made me go to BBYO (a Jewish youth group). While at first I wasn’t crazy about the idea, I ended up loving it, holding leadership positions, and making friends that I’m still close with today. When I went on to the University of Delaware and had to say goodbye to BBYO, I looked for a new way to connect to Judaism and the Jewish community. I found that connection sophomore year at the Chabad house which became like a second home for me.
Aaron+Stephen: What is your favorite part about being Jewish?
Rachel: My favorite part of being Jewish is being part of a diverse community. No two Jews are the same, yet in the end we are all Jewish. I love the feeling of meeting another Jew and feeling that connection. It’s one of the reasons why I am so excited to be working for GTJ. GTJ facilitates those connections, no matter what your Jewish background or identity.
Aaron+Stephen: Who is your favorite Jew?
Rachel: I LOVE Natalie Portman. Not only has she made some awesome movies like V for Vendetta (editor’s note: Remember, remember, the fifth of November) and Star Wars (though the originals were better), she’s also smart. She attended Harvard and is actively involved in causes she supports. She serves as an Ambassador of Hope for FINCA International which promotes micro-lending for women in developing countries, a cause I am also interested in. She is quite the power woman.
Aaron+Stephen: Most impactful words of wisdom from my dad:
Rachel: My dad always says, “It is what it is.” I’m definitely a perfectionist and can be very demanding of myself. My dad always tells me that as long as I tried my best, that’s what mattered. No matter how hard you try, there are certain things in life that you have to accept as they are. The trick is it to figure out what you have the power to change, and when you just have to say, “It is what it is.”
Aaron+Stephen: What is your favorite Jewish Holiday?
Rachel: Shabbat. No matter what, it comes every week and it’s an opportunity to take a step back from the hectic-ness (I don’t think that’s a real word…) of the rest of the week. I like the idea of disconnecting from the world for a little while, even if it’s only during Shabbat dinner, and taking that time to truly be in the moment with the people around you and reflecting on the past week.
Aaron+Stephen: If you aren’t Gathering…what will you be doing in DC?
Rachel: You’ll find me at a few different places. I love international relations and the Middle East, so you’ll find me sitting in on free lectures and events held by think tanks and universities in the area. Also, I like to stay active so you will see me running through the streets of DC. I’ve been reading up on Rock Creek Park, so I’m hoping to find some people interested in going there with me. I’m also a huge nerd, and can’t wait to fully explore all the Smithsonian museums.
Aaron: Finish this sentence: I love Gather the Jews because…
Rachel: It provides young adults with the opportunities and resources to build their own Jewish connection, no matter what form that connection takes.
Stephen: Finish this sentence: One part of Gather the Jews that is mediocre and I would like to change is…
Rachel: I would like to see the housing/bulletin board expand. For housing it’s great, but I think it could be a great way for people in the Jewish community to ask each other questions. For example, I wanted advice for which high holiday services to go to. Or maybe I’m trying to start a kickball team and want to find players. I think it would be great if the bulletin board could be used like that.